Pelham nonprofits during Covid-19: Finding creative (and virtual) ways to fundraise

Pelham nonprofits during Covid-19: Finding creative (and virtual) ways to fundraise

In normal times, Pelham nonprofit organizations have raised the majority of their funds through in-person events. With the Covid-19 pandemic prohibiting these events from taking place, many nonprofits have had to figure out other ways to raise money to fund their programs and events that benefit communities.

One Pelham nonprofit, the Rotary Club of the Pelhams, has had to postpone their annual tastings event from October 2021 to March 2022 due to Covid-19 restrictions. These tastings are used to raise money to support the Gift of Life organization, which facilitates transplants for children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Additionally, the Rotary Club will continue to raise money for a scholarship fund this spring which awards a $12,000 scholarship to a graduating senior.

Recently, the Rotary Club has had some success in utilizing social media to reach larger audiences in hopes to raise more funds. However, their fundraisers have not generated as much revenue as previous years. According to Treasurer Donna Shirreffs, they were only able to endorse one Gift of Life mission (instead of two to three in “normal” years) along with providing their $12,000 scholarship.

Differing from the Rotary Club, the Pelham Civic Association has decided to keep all of their planned events on the schedule. According to Mike Ming, president of the Pelham Civics, the organization has backup events prepared in case the events they planned are cancelled due to Covid-19. Pelham Civics cancelled numerous events last year such as their dinner-dance, but they have figured out a way to do some of these events virtually this year. For instance, the running races (half-marathon and 10k) usually held over Thanksgiving weekend were modified so that participants could run in their own home, record their times, and send them to Pelham Civics.

While Pelham Civics’ fundraising took a hit in 2020, Ming was “incredibly grateful that Pelham Civics raised enough money to support all of their programs.” With those funds, Pelham Civics was able to support small businesses, feed frontline workers and continue their Help a Child, Change a Life initiative for struggling and underprivileged students, among other programs.

Another Pelham nonprofit, Hearts and Homes for Refugees, has also taken the virtual route with regards to fundraising. It has hosted online concerts and a virtual art auction and has more than doubled funds from 2019 to 2020. With the money, Hearts and Homes has been able to relocate and support 46 refugee families in our region and provide $137,800 in support of these families. 

Kathie O’Callaghan, the founder of Hearts and Homes for Refugees, said that one of the challenges the pandemic has had on the organization is that it “limited the number of connections that the organization can make with the community.”

In 2021, O’Callaghan said that Hearts and Homes will strive to create more of these connections in hopes to raise awareness about the organization and inspire people to donate and welcome more refugees to the community.